Obituaries | May 11, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 19 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 19 | p. 36 | Obituaries
Issue Date: May 11, 2009


Department: ACS News

Don R. Baker, 76, a retired Stauffer Chemical agricultural chemist, died on April 24.

Born in Salt Lake City, Baker received an A.B. from Sacramento State College in 1955 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1959.

Baker established a long and distinguished career as a chemist, team leader, and senior scientist for Stauffer (now part of Syngenta), in Richmond, Calif. He retired in 1997 but continued working as a consultant. During his career, he was awarded 205 U.S. patents.

He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1958. Baker was chair of the society's California Section in 1973, and he served as its councilor from 1971 to 2006 and as its director from 1999 to 2001. He was also active in the ACS Committee on Professional & Member Relations. He received the California Section's Walter B. Petersen Award for service in 1991.

Baker enjoyed many hobbies including rock collecting, genealogy, raising orchids, and traveling. For nearly 30 years, he volunteered at the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in Oakland, Calif.

He is survived by children, Robert, David, and Barbara; stepchildren, Julie Pike, Wendy Katchmar, Heidi Howell, Emilie Eskelson, and Becky Forsyth; 25 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife, Shirley, whom he married in 1953, predeceased him. His second wife, Shirlee, whom he married in 1994, died in August 2008.

Francis M. Degges, 87, a retired Exxon chemist, died on Dec. 12, 2008, in Baton Rouge, La.

Degges earned a B.S. from the College of Charleston, in South Carolina, in 1942, and then received an M.A. at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1944.

He was a member of Alpha Chi Sigma and an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1945.

Degges served as a deacon, elder, and Sunday school teacher at First Presbyterian Church, in Baton Rouge.

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Jean; children Margaret Alexander and Lee; and two grandsons.


Lionel Luttinger, 89, a physical chemist, died on March 17 in Iowa City, Iowa.

Raised in New York City, Luttinger served in the Army during World War II, working for Kellex under the auspices of the Manhattan Project. After the war, he received a B.S. in chemistry at the City College of New York. In 1954, he earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now Polytechnic Institute of New York University). Luttinger conducted postdoctoral research at Yale University.

He spent much of his professional career working in industry for companies including American Cyanamid, Ashland Chemical, Permutit, and Drew Chemical, focusing his research on polymer and environmental chemistry. His work resulted in numerous patents in these fields, including those for the chemistry behind glow sticks, photogray lenses (a precursor to eyeglass lenses that adjust to sunlight), and a petroleum additive that allows oil to burn more efficiently. He also developed a catalyst for the synthesis of polyacetylene that is known as the Luttinger catalyst.

Luttinger is survived by five children, Andrey, Amy, Karl, Tanya, and Nina; and seven grandchildren.


Sir John R. Maddox, 83, eminent former editor of Nature, died of pneumonia in Abergavenny, Wales, on April 12.

Born in Penllergaer, Wales, Maddox studied chemistry at Oxford University's Christ Church, and earned a degree in physics at King's College London. He began his career in 1949 as a physics lecturer at the University of Manchester before taking a job as a science writer at the Manchester Guardian newspaper (now the Guardian) in 1955.

He became editor of Nature in 1966, quickly instituting a peer review system and setting rigorous journalistic standards. He left the publication in 1973 to launch an environmental magazine and then serve as director of the Nuffield Foundation. However, he returned to his post as editor of Nature in 1980, helping to launch other publications under the Nature flagship. He retired in 1995, the year he was knighted for his service to science.

Maddox also published books, including "The Doomsday Syndrome" and "What Remains To Be Discovered: Mapping the Secrets of the Universe, the Origins of Life, and the Future of the Human Race." He was named an honorary fellow of the Royal Society in 2000.

Maddox is survived by his wife, Brenda; six children; and two grandchildren.


William E. Truce, 91, professor emeritus of chemistry at Purdue University, died in January in Boulder, Colo.

Born in Chicago, Truce earned a B.S. in 1939 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Northwestern University in 1943. He served on the faculty at Purdue University from 1946 to 1988. He was assistant dean of the graduate school from 1963 to 1969.

Truce was internationally recognized for his research on the mechanisms and reactions of organosulfur compounds, particularly sulfones, sultones, and their metalated derivatives. He established the utility of the Truce-Smiles rearrangement for novel carbon-carbon bond-forming reactions.

Truce received many excellence-in-teaching awards while he was at Purdue. In 1957, he studied at Oxford University on a Guggenheim Fellowship.

He coauthored two books, "Laboratory Practice of Organic Chemistry" and "The Chemistry of Metalated Arenesulfonyl Systems." He also did consulting work and published many articles.

Truce was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1941. He served as executive officer of the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry's National Organic Symposium. Additionally, he was a chairman of the Gordon Research Conference on Organic Reactions & Processes.

His wife of 67 years, Eloise, predeceased him by three weeks. They are survived by their children, Nancy Moore and Roger; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.


Susan J. Ainsworth writes obituaries. Obituary notices may be sent to and should include a detailed educational and professional history.

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